” For Days I have been trying to think of nice April memories and I can only come up with one. She was just gazing out the window and she said “oh mother don’t you just love every day?”” : Joy Burns
Movie opens in one seedy Manhattan apartment with April (Katie Holmes) and her african-american boyfriend Bobby (Derek luke) chaotically preparing for a big thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, April’s highly dysfunctional family is preparing to leave their upstate New York suburban home to share this dinner with April in New York, anticipating disaster from the petulant April who is also eldest daughter and “black sheep” of the family.
Peter Hedges has done something noteworthy in Pieces of April. Movie is shot in digital video format with an overall off-colour outlook. Patricia Clarkson delivers one of her best performance as April’s ailing mother “Joy Burns” who is in her terminal stage of Breast Cancer. Her character is hilarious and maddening at the same time. Katie Holmes as April plays the role of a wayward eldest daughter of this dysfunctional family. She has not seen her family for some time now and as it may be the last thanksgiving of her mother, she invites her whole family to her apartment in New York. While preparing thanksgiving dinner and dealing with her neighbours, amid all the chaos she realizes that this may be her last chance to re-conciliate with her family. Movie flips-flops between scenes of neighbour-hopping escapades of April while facing all kinds of troubles in preparing thanksgiving dinner, and her family recollecting April & her shortcomings on their way to Manhattan.
Pieces of April is funny, moving, sad & intensely human, may be the best thanksgiving movie I have ever seen. Movie works as an ensemble piece which may have collapsed without its center piece Joy Burns (Patricia Clarkson). Katie Holmes was riveting as April in her punk look. Movie is only 80mins long and in the end leaves you wanting for more of this eccentric family. Unlike the stereotypical depiction of Thanksgiving, Pieces of April explores basic human frailties, but remains true to the thanksgiving theme all the time. Elements of comedy and tragedy are beautifully interwoven in the movie. Hedges pans out a very moving & heartwarming climax by making all the pieces of April come together and bequeaths you with a feeling of bittersweet lightness. If you are a fan of offbeat ‘slice of a life’ cinema then this one is not to be missed.
My Rating: 8/10.